Central Oklahoma Fun and Free Activities for Families


I am always on the lookout for free, educational activities for our family that gets us out-of-doors.  Over the past 10 years we have done quite a bit of exploring central Oklahoma, and here are three of the best free (except for the cost of gas) activities we enjoyed:

  1. Visit the Tallgrass Prairie near Barnsdall, Oklahoma. This beautiful wildlife preserve is like visiting Oklahoma when the settlers first came to this land. Wide, open spaces, tall grasses swaying in the wind and a lot of buffalo to enjoy. As the sign to the preserve states, “This is a space of quite in an increasingly noisy world”. The only noise was the sound of the wind, the lowing of the buffalo and the singing of the birds. Visit Barnsdall afterwards and tour the local Native American heritage museum for a peek into local tribal history.
  2. Hike at Gloss Mountain State Park. This small state park has large deposits of selenite crystal, which look like small pieces of glass shining in the sun. There are several trails, one which looks quite steep up the side of the mountain. The Gloss Mountains are more like large outcroppings jutting out of the otherwise flat landscape. Stations along the trail offered free selenite crystal pieces for visitors to take home. There are no bathrooms that I could see, so be sure to plan to visit one before going hiking.
  3. Dig for crystals at the Salt Plains State Park. The salt plains were created when a large lake partially dried up.The park is also a nesting area for several endangered species of birds. If you bring a bucket, shovel and clothes you can get dirty in, you can dig for crystals in the designated areas. There is also a visitors center, with a small nature display and a bathroom (always important). Note: It can get terribly hot in the summer when the salt reflects the sun. We went on a day in the upper 80’s, but on the salt bed, the temperatures reached over 100. Be sure to go on a cool day!


5 Things to do in Oklahoma when it is cold outside.


Well, when I first thought about writing this post, it really was cold outside. However in typical Oklahoma fashion, today was 82 degrees. These are still some really fun places to visit whatever the weather.

The Myraid Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City: a lush floral garden in the middle of the city. There is even a waterfall inside!

The Oklahoma Aquarium in Tulsa: this is by far the largest aquarium within hundreds of miles. There is a walk through shark tank, a lot of hands of displays for the kids, a large variety of fish and aquatic animals, along with a new turtle display coming soon. If you can make it, they also have a behind the scenes shark tank tour on selected days where you can walk on a catwalk above the tank.

The Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Oklahoma City: this one was a wonderful find for our family. It features a large area with dinosaur skeletons (including a two story high brontosaurus), an Oklahoma Native American display, insect collections, and other natural history exhibits. A wonderful deal too, for just a couple dollars a person. It is on the campus of Oklahoma State University. The gift shop and a large kids play/discovery area added to the charm of the place.

The Oklahoma City Capitol building: what impressed us was the huge central dome painted a variety of pastel colors. They offer free tours to the public which we found very informative and engaging. If you go when the legislature in out of session, you can tour the Supreme Court of Oklahoma chambers. We also were able to tour the House of Representatives. My daughter got to pretend she was the Speaker of the House. The have a small gift shop, not much there, but the tour was worth the visit.

Incredible Pizza in Tulsa: More than just pizza, this place has a huge buffet, with a fair amount of healthy choices, more games than any play-place I have ever seen. There is an indoor roller coaster, golf course, rides for small children, video games for the older kids and an indoor go-cart race track. It is a bit pricey: about $17.00 per person, but you get to play a LOT of games and you could stay all day, and go back to the food bar as many times as you want. Not a bad deal for a once a winter activity.

So there you have it, the free to the slightly pricey things to do in Oklahoma in any kind of weather! Enjoy!